August 21, 2022

While the Jordan Option has been discussed for 40 years now, it has not gotten any traction in its original form.  It posited that Jordan was Palestine and aspired to co-opt the Hashemites to embrace this concept.

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But the Hashemite Kingdom wanted no part in it. It wanted to keep Jordanians separate from Palestinians. The Palestinians represented a threat to their Kingdom. Thus it advocated for the creation of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River.

It wasn’t always so.

In my article Jordan Is Palestine I noted:

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Jordan annexed these lands in 1950 calling them the West Bank of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan..

In How Arab Rulers Undermined a Palestinian Staterecently published by Middle East Quarterly, the authors wrote:

…the government systematically erased all traces of a distinct Palestinian identity in an attempt to create a wider Jordanian national identity.

A decade later, Abdullah’s grandson and successor King Hussein declared his firm opposition to the idea of a separate “Palestinian entity,” convening a conference in January 1960 of Hashemite loyalists to denounce the “despicable innovation” of the establishment of a Palestinian entity.

Thus it may be said that during this period, 1948 to 1967, Jordan was Palestine, no ifs, ands or buts.

But after the Arab League in June 1988 gave the PLO financial control of support for the Palestinians, King Hussein renounced all Jordanian claims to the West Bank, allowing the PLO to assume full responsibility there.

And so it remained.

Mudar Zahran, a Palestinian living in Jordan had other plans. He wanted to mobilize the Palestinians in Jordan to overthrow the Hashemite Kingdom in Jordan and make it a republic under his leadership. To this end, he organized the Jordanian Opposition Coalition (JOC) some seven years ago and convinced the leaders of all 13 refugee camps in Jordan to join. He even managed to get the largest Bedouin clan in Jordan to join their ranks.